iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air: Which is the best pick for the holidays?


While the 10th-gen iPad comes with a slew of great updates, the 9th-gen iPad stays in the lineup and there’s also the 2022 iPad Air to consider. However, the iPad 10 may offer a sweet spot for modern features at an affordable price. Below we’ll break down all the similarities and differences between the iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air to help you decide which is the best choice.

The 2022 iPad Air blurred the line between the more affordable iPads and the Pro models, giving many people the incentive to skip the 11-inch iPad Pro. But the entry-level iPad 9 carried on the old design with large bezels and Home button.

Now that the iPad 10 has arrived with Apple’s modern slim-bezel design and a price below the iPad Air with many of the same features, it’s likely to pull customers away from both the iPad Pro and Air.


Let’s dig into what you get with the iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air. For all the charts below, the iPad 10 is in the middle row with iPad 9 on the left and iPad Air on the right.

iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air


iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air performance

In its announcement, Apple focused on the improvement from the iPad 9 to 10. With the upgrade from the A13 to A14 Bionic, the company touts 20% faster CPU speed and an 80% faster neural engine.

iPad 9 iPad 10 2022 iPad Air
Chip A13 Bionic A14 Bionic M1
CPU cores 6 6 8
GPU cores 4 4 8
Neural engine cores 8 16 16
Storage 64 or 256GB 64 or 256GB 64 or 256GB
USB-C ⌠✅ ✅
Cellular 4G 5G 5G

Meanwhile, the 2022 iPad Air is powered by the M1 chip. That includes a more powerful eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU. But, unless you’re running your iPad hard with pro-level workflows like video editing, graphic design, etc., you probably don’t need or might not even notice the M1 chip upgrade.


iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air display

iPad 10 gets almost the same display as the more expensive iPad Air. That’s a 10.9″ Liquid Retina panel with a 2360 x 1640 resolution. Other specs include 500 nits brightness, True Tone, and slim bezels.

The three main features you don’t get with iPad 10 found on iPad Air are P3 wide color, anti-reflective coating, and a laminated display.

But for most people, the iPad 10’s upgraded display will be great ðŸ˜.

iPad 9 iPad 10 2022 iPad Air
Display 10.2″ 10.9″ 10.9″
Resolution 2160 x 1620 2360 x 1640 2360 x 1640
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264
Display brightness 500 nits 500 nits 500 nits
True Tone ✅ ✅ ✅
P3 wide color ⌠⌠✅
ProMotion (120Hz) ⌠⌠âŒ
Anti-reflective coating ⌠⌠✅
Fully laminated display ⌠⌠✅
Standard Retina display ✅ – –
Liquid Retina display ⌠✅ ✅

Connectivity and accessories

The iPad 10 gets an all-new Magic Keyboard Folio that has some neat features beyond the more expensive Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro/Air.

However, a downside is the iPad 10 is still limited to the first-gen Apple Pencil. And that means a USB-C to Lightning adapter comes in the box for a clunky charging experience.

iPad Air works with all the same Apple accessories as the iPad Pro. That includes the second-gen Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and Smart Keyboard Folio.

The iPad 10 and iPad Air continue to use Touch ID but instead of it being located in the Home button, it’s found within the top button.

iPad 9 iPad 10 2022 iPad Air
Apple Pencil support 1st-gen 1st-gen 2nd-gen
Magic Keyboard support ⌠⌠✅
Magic Keyboard Folio support ⌠✅ âŒ
Bluetooth 4.2 5.2 5.0
5G ⌠✅ (but no mmWave) ✅ (but no mmWave)
WiFi 6 ⌠✅ ✅
Lightning ✅ ⌠âŒ
USB-C ⌠✅ ✅ 3.1 Gen 2
Thunderbolt ⌠⌠âŒ
Touch ID ✅ ✅ ✅
Face ID ⌠⌠âŒ

Another upgrade with iPad 10 is the switch to USB-C. Apple hasn’t detailed in its tech specs whether it’s USB 3.1 Gen 2 for the iPad 10 like iPad Air uses, we’ll have to wait and see.

Like the iPhone SE 3, the iPad 10 and iPad Air don’t have mmWave 5G support with the cellular models. But as mmWave is the rarest version of 5G coverage to find, that’s probably not an issue for most people.

Splash of color

iPad 10 colors

If the color of your next iPad is important, you’ve got more choices with the iPad 10 and iPad Air.

iPad 10 comes in silver, pink, blue, and yellow. iPad Air comes in space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue.

The iPad 9 only comes in space gray and silver.

iPad 10 vs 9 vs Air battery life

The iPad 10 has the same battery life as the iPad 9 and iPad Air:

  • 10 hours of web or video use on WiFi
  • 9 hours of web use with cellular

Storage and price

Here’s a breakdown of the price differences (MSRP) between these three iPads. However, with the iPad Air being on the market for a while, it can sometimes be found at a discount.

iPad 9 iPad 10 2022 iPad Air
64GB WiFi $329 $449 $599
64GB + cell $459 $599 $749
256GB WiFi $479 $599 $749
256GB + cell $609 $749 $899


iPad cameras

You get the same rear camera with iPad 10 that’s on the Air which uses a 12MP wide lens. With the iPad 9, you get an 8MP rear wide camera that’s a bit less capable.

Another neat change coming for the first time in an iPad – the 10th gen model gets a landscape front camera that makes it more convenient for video calls.

iPad 9 iPad 10 2022 iPad Air
8MP wide rear lens ✅ – –
12MP wide rear lens ⌠✅ ✅
Smart HDR 3 for photos ⌠✅ ✅
Rear camera flash ⌠✅ ✅
4K video ⌠✅ ✅
Extended dynamic range ✅ ✅
Slo-mo video 720p at 120 fps 1080p at up to 240 fps 1080p at up to 240 fps
Ultra wide 12MP front camera ✅ – ✅
Landscape ultra wide 12MP camera ⌠✅ âŒ
2x optical zoom out ✅ ✅ ✅
Center Stage auto-tracking ✅ ✅ ✅
Landscape two-speaker audio ⌠✅ ✅

And when it comes to speakers, you’re getting the same landscape two-speaker system on the iPad 10 and Air while the iPad 9 has a more basic two-speaker system.

iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air conclusion

New 10.9" iPad 2022

Why buy iPad 10?

When you consider all the similarities and differences, the iPad 10 is likely going to be a great choice for most people. At regular pricing, it’s $150 less than the iPad Air while including almost all of the best features.

The iPad 10 is available now from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, and more.

Why buy iPad 9 or iPad Air?

If you want to pick up the most affordable iPad with a 10″ screen for basic use and don’t mind the older design, the iPad 9 is a good fit.

If you know you’ll be pushing your tablet to the limit regularly, the iPad Air may be more tempting with the M1 chip. But really, if you are – or may become a power user, an iPad Pro may be better with up to 16GB RAM, up to 2TB storage, 120Hz ProMotion display, and Thunderbolt support.

However, if you can find iPad Air on sale, that could make it more compelling.

Read more 9to5Mac in-depth comparisons:

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